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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a very strong hive that has suddenly been severely infested by SHB. Have probably lost 2/3 of my bees, including the queen. Hive is now weak. Do not have any other hives to draw from, have ordered a new queen.

Is there anything treatment free that may allow me to save this hive? I do have spare boxes.
 

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Other than trapping them I am not aware of any non-chemical treatment. I have also heard that having the hive in ample sunlight “helps” with not getting them. I wish you luck you sound like your in a pinch.
You can make traps yourself or buy them, just do some searching on here or you tube.
 

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Take this with a dollop of salt, because I'm a beginner, but the only trouble with SHB that I have had is when a colony is having trouble maintaining healthy numbers for some other reason. I've had a mating nuc that didn't get a mated queen succumb to beetles, for example. There are beetles in all of my hives, but they only seem to present a problem when a colony is already in trouble.

Is it possible that your numbers were declining before the beetles took over?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ray

I think you may be correct. I put the problem on the main board and obtained the following information:
1. SHB do not kill adult bees.
2. The SHB and larvae I saw in the qt. sample I took from the pile of dead bees may have been late to the party. Apparently SHB will breed in dead bee carcasses.
3. One experienced beek says it sounds like what he has seen when the hive was infected with various virus'. No treatment possible, sometimes they make it, sometimes they do not. Plan to follow his advice tommorow and shrink the hive to a size the remaining bees can handle.
4. Hive had plenty of ventilation and honey, so overheat or starving probably not the cause.

I am still not sure, so will just do the best I can and see what happens. Once again shows the value of more than one hive, but just not able to pull it off this first year.

Thanks.
 

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Ray

I think you may be correct. I put the problem on the main board and obtained the following information:
1. SHB do not kill adult bees.
2. The SHB and larvae I saw in the qt. sample I took from the pile of dead bees may have been late to the party. Apparently SHB will breed in dead bee carcasses.
3. One experienced beek says it sounds like what he has seen when the hive was infected with various virus'. No treatment possible, sometimes they make it, sometimes they do not. Plan to follow his advice tommorow and shrink the hive to a size the remaining bees can handle.
4. Hive had plenty of ventilation and honey, so overheat or starving probably not the cause.

I am still not sure, so will just do the best I can and see what happens. Once again shows the value of more than one hive, but just not able to pull it off this first year.

Thanks.
Remove eveything that they can't protect, including the any honey and especially pollen. if they are queenless, they won't need pollen anyway. The SHB will really work on the pollen frames.

A hive that is queenless seems to draw a lot more beetles than others, may be a pheremone thing.

If they are broodless and queenless, I would move your box over, place an empty with comb in it, next to it. Shake the bees off the frames and into the box with just comb in it. Then freeze the combs that they were on. You will need to feed them (syrup, not pollen) until you can give them back some stores after freezing. You will also end up moving adult SHB to the new box, but with no stores and no brood, pollen they will have nothing to eat and slime up.

Beware, the bees may abscond anyway.

Good luck.
 

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Remove eveything that they can't protect, including the any honey and especially pollen. if they are queenless, they won't need pollen anyway. The SHB will really work on the pollen frames.

A hive that is queenless seems to draw a lot more beetles than others, may be a pheremone thing.

If they are broodless and queenless, I would move your box over, place an empty with comb in it, next to it. Shake the bees off the frames and into the box with just comb in it. Then freeze the combs that they were on. You will need to feed them (syrup, not pollen) until you can give them back some stores after freezing. You will also end up moving adult SHB to the new box, but with no stores and no brood, pollen they will have nothing to eat and slime up.

Beware, the bees may abscond anyway.

Good luck.
I'd add that beetles can ruin honey very fast. The larva causes it to ferment and is then unfit for bees to eat. Freezing should be done to kill the beetle eggs and larva, but you will probably have to discard the honey. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After consideration of the guidance I received here and on the main board ('Live bees thick on bottom of hive') I am proceeding on the assumption that the SHB are a result of the die off, not the cause. Based upon all the information an infection of some type seems the most logical. So, this is what I did today:

Took the hive apart, inspected each frame (again!). Concluded that I do have capped brood, but no eggs or larvae. No indication of a queen. Broke down the hive, consolidated it from 3 boxes to 2, with the brood frames in the center. Included all the uncapped honey, and some capped. Pulled the rest of the frames with a little capped honey and comb.

Gathered a sample of the dead bees which I will send to Beltsville tomorrow. I think this may be the only way I ever find out the exact cause of the dieoff.

Thank you, everyone, for your advice and information. As a first year beek without anyone to work with I am sure I am a pain, but without you all I would not have a chance.

I will post any results I get from Beltsville.

Mike
 

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Once again shows the value of more than one hive, but just not able to pull it off this first year.

Thanks.
For TF, I think we HAVE to have several hives at a minimum. I am also trying to build up and it is a b__h when you have to offset high losses due to illness/parasites AND my own mistakes. I want about 10-12 hives, I think that, plus whatever swarms I catch each year, would take the stress out of the hobby every time there is a problem with a hive. Too many eggs in one basket right now. :)
 

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I had a very strong hive that has suddenly been severely infested by SHB. Have probably lost 2/3 of my bees, including the queen. Hive is now weak. Do not have any other hives to draw from, have ordered a new queen.

Is there anything treatment free that may allow me to save this hive? I do have spare boxes.
It is quite possible that you have reversed the cause and effect. Queenless hives get weak and SHB move in. At least that has been my conclusion. Nonetheless, reduce hive volume as much as possible - preferably by putting frames in a freezer - and get the hive queenright asap.

Edit - I answered your question before reading the other responses, but lo and behold you have asked a question of many beekeepers and got the same answer many times. It may be a miracle.
 

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For TF, I think we HAVE to have several hives at a minimum. I am also trying to build up and it is a b__h when you have to offset high losses due to illness/parasites AND my own mistakes. I want about 10-12 hives, I think that, plus whatever swarms I catch each year, would take the stress out of the hobby every time there is a problem with a hive. Too many eggs in one basket right now. :)
I agree that to be successful at treatment free, you need a number of hives with as much genetic diversity as possible---- unless you luck into living in an locale with many feral bees and no beekeeper within miles who treats. Luck helps also.
 

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I can also heartily recommend screened bottom boards with an oil tray underneath. I've seen hundreds of SHB in the tray after going through a hive top to bottom. The SHB were disturbed and got chased around by the bees, lost their footing and ended up in the oil. This is from a healthy hive. I'm in the bible belt here in TN, and I think there must be a SHB belt too. It warms my heart to see SHB in the oil. The only good SHB is a dead one. ;-)

To answer one of your questions, I know of no chemical countermeasures for SHB that will help. Some people do the Guardstar ground drench, but if you think about it, this only works once the larva have hatched, slimed your honey, and exited the hive. In my opinion, Guardstar is a waste of money. Your problem is the eggs and larva in the hive, not those that have exited. Adult beetles are excellent fliers and you need to combat the majority which are flying in from a distance, not just a foot around your hive from the ground.

It sounds like something happened to your hive, and the SHB are being opportunistic. Queen died, mite overload, pesticide issue. The hives get pressure on multiple fronts, and when the combined pressure gets to a certain point that diminish the super-organism's ability to fight, one or more of the opportunistic invaders will grow out of control. Or, the hive will abscond.

Rick

P.S. Did you check for swarm queen cells? If the hive swarmed, the old queen left with the swarm. The remaining bees would be raising a new queen. If something happened to disturb this process (i.e., new queen gets damaged by inspecting the hive), then you could end up in the situation you describe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No queen cells. Am waiting to order queen until I hear from Beltsville. Sent dead bees yesterday. Hope it doesn't take too long.
One good note: cut a hive out of a downed tree yesterday. Now I can have a whole new set of things to worry about!
 

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Is there anything treatment free that may allow me to save this hive?
No.

The whole point of TF is that they save themselves. Since they aren't able to do that, your most viable option is to get rid of them, then split from your remaining hives to make up the loss.
 

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I had a very strong hive that has suddenly been severely infested by SHB. Have probably lost 2/3 of my bees, including the queen. Hive is now weak. Do not have any other hives to draw from, have ordered a new queen.

Is there anything treatment free that may allow me to save this hive? I do have spare boxes.
Is this the cutout you did a week ago and put the honey comb in with? If so, it's a different animal than a strong hive. I've had some luck with beetle blaster traps but if it was a wet cut out and you've now lost a bunch of bees, they are likely doomed (been there myself).
 

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I seem to recall that beekeepers in the south discovered early on that the small hive beetle can destroy even strong colonies. The bees really have no way of combatting them. They do dismember them, they also close them up with propolis, but then studies have shown the bees feed the beetles! And every time we open the colonies, any beetles trapped in propolis by the bees often escape. Once the shb lays the eggs, the larvae tunnel thru pollen and bee larvae, as I understand it. So once a hive has shb larvae, it is as good as dead. The numbers overwhelm the bees.

Treatment? Full sun for the hives... also, and I AM treatment free (when it comes to chemicals and varroa) BUT I use the reusable beetle jails filled with mineral oil. I have put as many as 4 traps in a two story colony infested with shb and by years end very few beetles are left alive. And the second year rarely see a beetle in the colony.

As I understand it (and I'd love for some long time beeks from the South, to chime in re: their experiences) this is one case where treatment free simply is a death sentence for a colony.
Regards,
Steven
 

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As I understand it (and I'd love for some long time beeks from the South, to chime in re: their experiences) this is one case where treatment free simply is a death sentence for a colony.
Regards,
Steven
A strong hive can withstand a quite large population of SHB. They will keep them isolated from the brood nest. the issue is when that strong hive stumbles for any reason. if it has to re-queen or swarms, or has a population decrease due to dearth, Varroa or any number of reasons, the SHB will knock it out. A hive that normally could survive Varroa losses or a dearth, will succumb to the SHB when they weaken at all. They remove small numbers of SHB larva, but when the numbers get to great and the larva slime a couple frames of honey, the bees will abscond leaving behind a nasty mess.

The hive in the front right is the same hive that the next picture shows with all the SHB on to of the inner cover. It was one of my largest and strongest producers and also survived this infestation. The last picture is of a full bottom trap using DE. It dessicated the SHB. You can use oil, but I have found it becomes a stinking mess if you don't change it once it is fouled. Also if you get water in the tray the oil floats to the top and can end up killing bees.

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There are probably exceptions, but SHB problems are like a secondary infection. A hive can have lots of adult beetles and still be fine. One of my best hives this spring was crawling with beetles late last summer.

I think that the best way to deal with SHB is for the hive to be strong and healthy, and otherwise mostly stress free. But a hive that is queenless, malnutritioned, diseased or mite infested is a sitting duck - especially queenless. So take care of all that and chances are the hive will deal with SHB all by itself. At least that has been my experience.

Interesting - jbeshearse and I must have been typing at the same time, and we pretty much said the same things. There seems to be a good bit of agreement on the subject of hive beetles.
 
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